Inmate remains behind bars

WARREN – Convicted killer Gary Betz was denied parole and must remain behind bars until at least February 2016.

Betz was convicted of murdering a Newton Township bartender, Ronald Goche, inside his tavern in 1976. Prior to that, the former Columbiana County man had been paroled twice for burglary, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said.

Betz was released in 2007, only to be arrested three times since on drunken driving charges. After convictions in Carrollton and Minerva in 2008 and 2010, the latest DUI case in Lisbon in 2011 was never prosecuted after Betz was returned to prison on a parole violation.

The Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office announced late last week the Ohio Parole Authority’s decision to deny parole following Watkins’ stiff opposition to any prison release.

Watkins also questioned earlier why he was never given prison medical records and reports in 2007 that described the 59-year-old Marion Correctional Institution inmate as having a severe muscular disease that would likely lead to his death within five years.

In March 1977, Betz was sentenced to seven to 25 years in prison for aggravated robbery and life in prison for aggravated murder for killing Goche, who was 30 at the time of his death and running the Riviera Inn.

Testimony at the trial indicated that Betz and Carl “Willie” Oyer, who was 20 at the time of the crime, spent the day before the murder drinking heavily, smoking marijuana and taking pills.

Oyer testified that Betz fired the fatal blast into Goche’s face from a sawed-off shotgun. Goche died instantly.

Betz left with $138 in cash receipts from the bar.